2020 has been a year of crisis management. Between the coronavirus pandemic, wildfires, police brutality riots, and numerous large-scale natural disasters across the United States, law firms have had to contend with a lot of uncertainty. These events have raised the question of how to safely prepare for future disasters.
The first thing that a firm must have in place is a disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery plans should cover a range of incidents that impact how your firm functions, including, but not limited to, IT infrastructure, the physical offices, or employees’ ability to do their jobs.
Key elements of a good DRP include the following considerations:
- Assessing priorities for immediate action
- Assigning roles responsibilities
- Who is authorized to execute a plan? Have a chain of command in place.
- Data backup and a plan for accessing and restoring backups in the aftermath of a disaster. Your plan should be tested periodically.
- Client lists, calendars, electronic documents
- Inventory of assets
- A list of all physical client and case records
- A list of all office supplies, computers, equipment, and furniture used by the firm
- Make sure to include a list of key vendors to use to obtain office supplies, computers, IT assistance, equipment, furniture
- Communications plan that includes who to contact and what critical information to communicate:
- Emergency contacts, including first responders, banking, and other key business contacts
- FEMA and Red Cross contact information for government loans or other assistance
- Insurance agent contacts to file business interruption claim as soon as possible
- Employee contact information, as well as their emergency contacts
- Communication plan for clients, the court, staff, lawyers, and vendors after a disaster
- Work plan for employees
- Plan for locating new office OR
- Plan for remote work
The ABA, as well as most state and local bar associations, offer disaster recovery resources for attorneys, along with DRP templates.